A learning-centered organization, as defined by the NTN Learning Organization Framework, identifies learning-centered leadership as one of the three critical components for leading systemic, transformational change. As an NTN leader, it is a priority to cultivate & distribute leadership within and across your building and district. Specifically, leadership should reinforce your shared purpose with each individual, both students and adults, to regularly experiences deeper learning that is authentic, active, relational, responsive and complex. Effective learning-centered leaders develop a collective, laser-focus on “outcomes that matter” for each learner. They provide forums for clear communication and safe opportunities to implement project and problem-based learning. School leaders do not work alone, rather they thrive and create a learning organization when they work with and empower others to be collaborate as problem solvers (Senge, 2006). Learning-centered leaders model and create the conditions for continued learning at every level of the school organization.
- Make decisions that are aligned to the school's mission and vision.
Successful leaders use data to direct learning throughout the organization and ultimately, keep the school’s Mission and Vision with learning and success at the center. Using common data and language to help identify both adult and student struggles will drive the school to intentionally consider alternatives toward finding success, especially when what is being tried is not working. All decisions are made with a mission and vision focus.
- Work to ensure that leadership decisions are informed by multiple perspectives and points of view.
Successful school leaders provide opportunities for leaders to emerge throughout the building; in other words, named school leaders work to distribute leadership at multiple levels of the school system. Learning-centered leaders create concrete structures and practices that are designed to cultivate and distribute leadership capacity in order to respond to necessary change implementation. Leaders have the perspective and share responsibility with people throughout the organization to support potential change for tighter alignment to the mission and vision of the school. They exercise Sound Judgment. Learning-centered leaders care for the organization’s mission and future in a way that transcends specific roles and titles and instead responds to the best interests of the school’s mission and vision. In other words, leadership opportunities exist at all layers of the traditional school hierarchy when the people identified are working toward implementing the mission and vision with fidelity.
- Develop and maintain an effective shared leadership team.
A critical aspect of a meaningful leadership team is to entertain and engage in finding and understanding Alternative Viewpoints. The willingness of formal leaders to seek alternate points of view conveys the expectation that all members of the organization will exercise judgment in the best interests of the mission and centers on student success. The strongest learning-centered leaders do not rely solely on their most trusted confidants, rather, they seek opposing viewpoints to better understand the possibilities.
- Cultivate and distribute leadership throughout the school community.
A learning-centered leader will both identify and regularly convene an effective and efficient Shared Leadership Team that focuses on the continuous improvement of teaching and learning. The team represents a meaningful cross section of the school and is guided by implementing and supporting systems and structures that are aligned to the mission and vision of the school. Stakeholders of the school community include, but are not limited to administration, teachers, staff, students, parents, local business owners and community center leaders. When connections are made throughout the entire community, there is a broader network to lead toward the mission and vision.
- Model what learning looks like.
Model and reinforce the pursuit, application and sharing of new learning by actively learning alongside staff and students. Learning-centered leaders use the cycle of inquiry to inspire and guide necessary reflection of implementation of teaching and learning that is grounded in NTN project-based and problem based learning and the deeper learning conditions as well as the outcomes that matter. Learning-centered leaders are also vulnerable; they consistently seek deeper understanding to support empowered application and implementation of practices and supports for authentic student learning experiences.